BY RACHEL JACOBY ZOLDAN
Meditation is gaining serious steam: Data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey found that its use among US adults tripled between 2012 and 2017 — from 4.1 percent to 14.2 percent. What’s more, a recently released report from the Global Wellness Institute highlights the growing diversification of the practice, with a focus on individualization. Whether it’s ultra-accessible forms of meditation for beginners (thanks to a variety of apps you can download to your phone), guided meditation for anxiety, or sleep meditation for insomnia, there’s something for everyone. Now, a new twist on meditation has emerged: cannabis. Lots of folks are treating weed as an integral component of meditation. “Using cannabis can potentially provide an incredibly deep, insightful, and reflective meditation session,” says Heather Larivee, the founder and CEO of Sparkflo, a corporate wellness consultancy. “The combination allows us to soften, open a door and gain new perspectives on our human experience.”
Darrin Zeer, a cannabis expert and the author of High Yoga, agrees. “The main benefit [of meditating while] using weed is becoming present with this moment,” he explains, “which is the ultimate goal for all meditators—the feeling of altered mindfulness.” Clearly, the mind body practice can be seriously enhanced with some pot. But what’s the best way to go about mixing meditation and weed?
Meditating While High
First things first: your altered state should depend on how much you can tolerate. Janae Leonard, a cannabis educator and activist and iRest meditation teacher, suggests that microdosing cannabis may be the best way to gauge your level. “When microdosed, cannabis can help activate the task-positive network [responsible for attention-demanding functions] in our brains and take just enough of the edge of our day off—the rushing around, being pulled in a million different directions—to help us relax into the practice,” says Leonard.
So, rather than going for a few giant bong rips or smoking a massive joint before your session, Leonard recommends starting small: “Take one tiny hit of your favorite flower.” He prefers the Do-Si-Dos or Blueberry Muffin strains, as they’re balanced in their energizing and relaxing effects.
Larivee agrees with the less-is-more approach because you’re still getting the myriad benefits of meditation while elevating the experience with cannabis. “Meditation is about being present and observing your experience; personally, I prefer hybrids—really digging Pineapple Express at the moment—and suggest taking it easy when you consume, as this will allow you to remain present during your meditation session,” she says. In other words, don't dab yourself into oblivion!
Best Strains for Meditation
Another popular strain to meditate with is Lemon Haze, a sativa hybrid. “The long-lasting and calming citrus profile is a favorite for people looking to get out of a funk, be it physical or mental,” says Sam Morrison, a cannabis researcher and health expert at Glacier Wellness. “The balance between head and body mixed with the uplifting effects makes Lemon Haze a great choice—plus, Lemon Haze is known for triggering creativity, motivation, and serenity.”
Interestingly, Larivee suggests it’s all about the terpenes contained within an individual strain: Linalool provides a more relaxing experience, while pinene promotes clarity. Alternatively, Leonard recommends trying a lower-level THC strain if you’re too distracted, or one that’s got a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. You can also try microdosing a 1:1 sublingual tincture, says Leonard, who considers anything under 5 mg to be a microdose. “Just put one drop under your tongue and hold it there for 15 seconds, then swallow and wait 15 minutes prior to your meditation,” says Leonard. “If that’s not enough, the next day, try two drops, and so on.”
The best way to get started with your enhanced meditation is to get as comfortable as possible. “Wear comfortable clothing and sit in a comfy position—on a cushion or chair or even laying down,” says Larivee, “and take a few deep cleansing breaths to get started.” From there, close your eyes and focus on following your breath as you inhale and exhale, says Zeer. “Stay connected to the sensations in your body, whether they’re pleasurable or comfortable—no judgment.” And if you feel like you’re tripping out, which we tend to do while high, he adds, just come back to the present moment. “Allow yourself to slip in and out of the past and future, but return to the now.”
Also, don’t stress out about your meditation being a lengthy experience. “If you’re new to meditation, maybe start with five or 10 minute sessions,” says Larivee, “and then increase as you see fit.” Even 30 seconds of zoning out can count, she adds. During the session, simply be the observer of your human experience, noticing what comes up and allowing those thoughts or feeling to come up, without becoming attached or needing to change them. “Allow yourself to 'sit' with whatever is coming up and then just let it pass by,” she adds. “It's a bit of a cycle or loop, noticing, breathing, sitting, redirecting.”